COVID-19 and U.S. Higher Education: The Realities of Undergraduate International STEM Students' Experiences Conference

Cooper, A, Fletcher, TL. (2022). COVID-19 and U.S. Higher Education: The Realities of Undergraduate International STEM Students' Experiences .

cited authors

  • Cooper, A; Fletcher, TL



  • Higher Education is the fifth largest service export sector in the United States, with international students contributing $17.7 billion to the U.S. economy each year. There is a plethora of reasons why students migrate to the U.S. to further their education, including but not limited to: (1) increasing their chances for long-term success and increasing self-efficacy; (2) supporting their family through educational advancement; and (3) gaining access to high quality education. Prior research highlights how international students face challenges linked to federal restrictions and policies that potentially hinder their academic success, all of which were heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information such as this raises concern around the current state of undergraduate international STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in the U.S. and access to resources (i.e. scholarships, fellowships, internships, full-time jobs, etc.), especially compared to their domestic counterparts. This insight is particularly true for individuals seeking to obtain a degree within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as the U.S. serves as an incubator for STEM talent due to the abundance of workforce opportunities present. Therefore, it is important to explore the experiences of undergraduate international STEM students pursuing degrees in the U.S., especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a lingering effect within higher education. Our target population has an influential impact on the nation's economy, particularly H1-B visa sponsored jobs at top companies within the technology sector driving a large portion of our growth within the STEM workforce. This work in progress focused on qualitative analysis centered on the experience of undergraduate international STEM students. This study includes a literature review that highlights the latest findings around our target populations' experiences during the pandemic. Following that, the methods highlight our proposal to conduct a qualitative analysis including interviews with current students. The methods section closes with a draft of the interview questions which center around their experiences, barriers and challenges they face (past and present) related to the pandemic and information related to access to resources. Lastly, an overview of the proposed impact, implications of this study once complete and overarching conclusions. The goal is to get feedback from the broader ASEE community, finalized the interview protocol, conduct the interviews, analyze, and share results and use the overall findings to propose new directions and future work for the broader community.

publication date

  • August 23, 2022